Virtuoso Life - July/August 2018 - 85
SCAN THIS CODE AND DISCOVER THE SOUND OF COLOMBIA
Ashish Sanghrajka, President of Big Five Tours and Expeditions'
memoir of his most recent adventure in Colombia, the land of Sabrosura
I first visited Colombia more than a decade ago, and wondered then
what would make me want to stay longer. The answer came as I sat in
a 600-year-old water well inside Cartagena's walled city, which I
discovered purely by accident. When I returned from that first trip, I
told everyone that this was a sleeping giant in Latin America, and we
should eagerly await her awakening. You can imagine how well that
went over in those days.
Well today Colombia is awake and she is sabrosura.
I continue to get answers every time I visit, like the one that came
during a graffiti tour in Bogota when I saw that my favorite mural was
still there, and letting the old woman in the mural speak to me.
Every time I return to my favorite hotel in Cartagena, I feel
welcome, like in the Cheers TV show song where
everyone really does know your name. It says a lot
about how passionate the people of a country
are about service when a restaurant server
stops to ask you how your children are...
every year for five years after my
children were there last.
Having just returned from my latest
adventure, which took me through the
Huila department in the Andean
region to the Tatacoa Desert outside
Neiva and to all the remote towns
leading up to the ancient necropolis of
San Agustin, I have yet again, a
new-found appreciation for Colombia in
the new places I discovered.
I was asked during this trip why
Colombia was so dear to me. Amazingly,
I have never been asked that before.
After pondering that question for a few days,
the answer hit me like a brick. Tourism here came
about in my lifetime, allowing me a front row seat to the
organic growth that has occurred over the last decade. It's almost
like watching your child grow and flourish. Colombia is my baby.
Today I use Colombia as a model for other countries that haven't emerged
yet. In fact, Colombia is the best example of how a country can come
together and stabilize, under the umbrella of sustainable tourism. Sure, like
any country, there are still growing pains, however, the future has never
been brighter, especially in the places beyond Bogota and Cartagena like
San Agustin and the Tatacoa Desert.
Yes, I am a native of Kenya and my bloodlines reach back to India,
however, my heart beats a little faster in Colombia.
When I am asked why I go to Colombia every year, I simply say,
"I'm going home."
SABR OSU RA